At UFC Fight Night 196, fans will get to witness a clash of styles in the women’s strawweight division between Randa Markos and Livia Renta Souza.
Iraqi-Canadian Randa Markos, a longtime veteran in the UFC since her appearance on The Ultimate Fighter in 2014, has established herself as one of the pillars of the division, having fought the best the UFC has to offer over the past seven years. Although sustaining mixed results and a string of defeats as of late, Markos has essentially been the test that those ready for true contention have to pass, and those not ready for the elite cannot. If Livia Renata Souza believes she is ready to break into the title picture, Markos will act as the first test amongst the best of the division.
Livia Souza, a former Invicta champion fighting out of Brazil has less than one-third the UFC experience of her Fight Night 196 opponent. However, with a background including high-level Judo training, and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wicked power in her hands she believes she can finish Markos anywhere the fight takes her. With eight submissions to her name, she looks to be a dangerous task for the UFC veteran.
Markos vs. Souza Betting Odds
Both women come into the bout close to even but slightly on the negative side. This means that, in a bout extremely difficult to call, betting on either woman will return less than the initial wager.
- Markos: -105
- Souza: -125
Markos vs. Souza Breakdown
Randa Markos is a well-rounded individual in the cage with good power in her striking and a scrappy grappling game. She stands orthodox, in a low-hunched stance and primarily throws hands, usually straight punches. Historically Markos has been a bit of a slow starter, and when she has tried to start quick, a slight stiffness in her movements can be sensed, at points she has looked to burst forward with a barrage of punches, but neglects to move her head off the centerline, something that seems to come more natural once she has fought for a few minutes and adjusted to the moment.
Of her strikes, her best shot is typically her straight right down the middle. She doesn’t have a great reach, and because she is a more flat-footed fighter she does not usually depend on speed or explosion to land it, rather she has great timing when her opponents plant in their stance. The other strategy used is that Markos often comes on stronger in the later rounds, and as her opponent’s fade, she will walk them down with the right hand when they slow on the backfoot.
Regardless, her most dangerous weapon is probably her grappling, specifically her armbar. Markos has very good wrestling and even better scrambling ability, and will threaten submissions in a variety of scenarios. However, although she does threaten the neck, she has so far not submitted anyone outside of using the armbar, so it’s not a scratch to say it is her primary submission. In terms of takedowns, Markos uses a large amount of force forward when she drives into her opponents, which works out better when she can change levels correctly and push through their base, however, the caveat is that when she cannot she finds herself overcommitting standing too tall and being countered with Judo throws.
This particularly plays right into Souza’s game who is a former member of the Brazilian Olympic Judo team. She is by far the more explosive fighter and has a strong start in many of her fights but tends to slow and diminish in output slightly by the last round. This is a stark contrast to Markos’ pace. Therefore expect to see a strong start from Souza, and likely Markos’ best work late.
Souza also utilizes a hunched and low fight stance, but instead of putting forward with straight punches, she prefers to stalk her opponents and throw low leg kicks and big overhand rights. She is faster and probably cracks with a bit more heat than Randa, as well she has a good habit of mixing her right hand between the body and the head making it a bit more unpredictable. One thing she has to be careful of is when she throws the overhand right, one of her best attacks, not to be intercepted with Markos’ straight which should reach the target quicker than the looping punch. However, as with Markos, timing is one of Souza’s strengths as well.
Souza has extremely good pressure from top control and a variety of submissions. We’ve seen her finish via armbar, triangle, guillotine, rear chokes, and even a heel hook early in her career. The diversity in the grappling techniques goes to Souza, probably the technically better grappler but needs to stay composed against a scrambler like Markos.
Markos vs. Souza Prediction
This fight will be a difficult test for both women, but a lot of pressure will be on Markos to snap her losing streak and prove she still belongs in the elite of women’s MMA. The added stress will be a difficult aspect considering that her experience and composure is probably her biggest asset in this match-up, it would do her well to drag Souza into deeper waters and lean on that experience and comfort in the late rounds.
However, the areas in which the two are similar, flat-footed movement, and trading stiff power straights leans itself to Souza, who has a bit more pop on her punches. In terms of grappling, it’s hard to say what to expect but top control is a must for both women, and it will be a hard-fought battle to establish control. Souza’s experience in clinch takedowns leads me to believe she has a bit of an advantage here because of Markos’ susceptibility to getting thrown in the past so although it’s close I give the nod to Souza.
Prediction: Livia Renata Souza by decision